Joanna Cannon - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Joanna Cannon

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Professor Emerita Joanna Cannon

Joanna Cannon studied as an undergraduate and postgraduate at The Courtauld Institute of Art, receiving her PhD in 1980. She has taught at The Courtauld since 1977.  She was appointed Professor in the History of Art in 2014.  Joanna  was the Head of the Classical, Byzantine and Medieval Section of The Courtauld from 2004-2008, and Head of Examinations from 2012-2014.

Joanna’s research interests centre on the art and architecture of Italy in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries with particular interest in: evaluating the visual as a historical source; assessing the impact of historical circumstances on the formal development of art; investigating methods of explaining and disseminating information concerning the physical characteristics of works of art gathered through technical analysis. Her research has resulted in many publications, most recently the monograph Religious Poverty, Visual Riches, New Haven, Connecticut and London 2013. She is currently developing a proposal, with Caroline Campbell (Curator of Italian Paintings before 1500 at the National Gallery, London) for an exhibition presenting Sienese Art of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries in British collections.

Joanna is convenor of the seminar group Giotto’s Circle. She is a trustee of the Caroline Villers Research Fellowship, which promotes research in the field of Technical Art History. Together with Aviva Burnstock and Caroline Campbell she directed the project funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to create a research-based website, investigating technical aspects of the works of the Master of the Fogg Pietà/ Maestro di Figline across international collections. Professor Cannon is local organiser of the annual lecture ‘ICMA at The Courtauld’, and was co-organiser of the workshop and website Art, Architecture and the Indulgence for The Courtauld Research Forum.

PhD Supervision


  • Bryan Keene, ‘Choir Book Illumination in Fourteenth-Century Florence’
  • Eowyn Kerr-di Carlo, ‘Artistic Practices and Shared Techniques from the Circle of Lorenzo Monaco: A Study of Painting and Illumination in Late-Medieval Devotional Books’, co-supervised with Dr Scott Nethersole
  • John Renner, ‘The Founder’s Image: Transfigurations of St Francis in Central Italian Art, c. 1250-1350’.
  • Imogen Tedbury, ‘The collection, display and reception of fourteenth- and fifteenth-century Sienese paintings in Britain, 1850-1950’, co-supervised with Dr Caroline Campbell (National Gallery) as part of Collaborative Doctorate Programme
  • Michaela Zoeschg, ‘Art, Space and Audience in Royal Clarissan Foundations of Late Medieval Europe’.

Recently completed

  • 2015 James Cameron, ‘Sedilia in Medieval England’, co-supervised with Professor David Park
  • 2014 Glyn Davies, ‘Chalices in Central and Northern Italy: Forms, Uses and Meanings 1250-1520’.
  • 2011 Stefania Gerevini, “Object, treasuries, cities. The importation and appropriation of Byzantine objects and relics in Santa Maria della Scala in Siena and San Marco in Venice”. Second supervisor with principal supervisor Dr Antony Eastmond.
  • 2010 Anthea Stevens, “Sine macula sunt: the Holy Innocents and their portrayal in Italian Art c. 1200 – c.1500″.
  • 2009 Francesco Lucchini, “Objects at Work. A Material and Cultural History of the Reliquaries of St Anthony of Padua in the Basilica del Santo, ca.1231-1438”.
  • 2008 Federico Botana, “Working for the Afterlife: The Works of Mercy in Medieval Italian Art (mid-eleventh to late-fourteenth century)”.
  • 2007 Jessica Richardson, “Shaping and Maintaining Devotion: The Cult and Images of St. Leonard of Noblat in Italy, c. 1100 – 1450”.
  • 2005 Virginia Brilliant, “Envisaging the Particular Judgement in Trecento Italy.”
  • 2002 Francesca Geens, “‘Ungs très petiz tableaux à pignon, qui cloent et ouvrent, esmaillez dehors et dedens’: Imagery and Function of Small-Scale, Folding, Enamelled Objects in 14th Century Europe.” Co-Supervisor with Dr Susie Nash
  • 2001 Janet Robson, “‘Speculum Imperfectionis’: Judas Iscariot in Late Medieval Italian Art”
  • 2000 Donal Cooper, “In medio ecclesiae: Screens, Crucifixes and Shrines in the Franciscan Church Interior in Italy (c.1230-c.1400)”
  • Thomas De Wesselow, “The Wall of the Mappamondo in the Palazzo Pubblico, Siena”
  • Giovanni Freni, “Studies in Art, Architecture and Patronage in Arezzo (1277-1400)”
  • 1998 Sally Cornelison, “Art and Devotion in Late-Medieval and Renaissance Florence: The Relics of Sts. Zenobius and John the Baptist”. Co-supervisor with Professor Michael Hirst.
  • 1996 Beth Williamson, “The Madonna of Humility and the Virgin Lactans in Italy, Metz, and Avignon in the 13th and 14th Centuries”
  • 1992 Jillian Bennett, “Framing the Subject: Representation and the Body in Late-Medieval Italy”
  • Gianna Mina, “Studies in Marian Imagery: Servite Spirituality and the Art of Siena (c.1261-c.1328)”, Collaborative doctoral supervision
  • Jennifer Dye, “Mendicant Marian Mystical Marriage Imagery in the 13th and 14th Centuries”. Second supervisor of University College London student, with Professor David d’Avray, Department of History, UCL.

Research interests

  • Art and Architecture of Italy in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, with particular interest in:
  • Evaluating the visual as a historical source
  • Assessing the impact of historical circumstances on the formal development of art
  • Investigating methods of explaining and disseminating information concerning the physical characteristics of works of art gathered through technical analysis
  • Change over time in the condition, location, viewing conditions, acquisition and display of paintings, sculpture and other works of art.
  • Artists’ creative processes and working practices
  • Disjunctions and commonalities between the study of late Medieval Art and early Renaissance Art
  • Methods of studying the multiple experiences of viewers seeing the art of late Medieval/Early Renaissance Italy.

Recent publications

Books and edited books

  • religiouspoverty CannonReligious Poverty, Visual Riches. Art in the Dominican Churches of Central Italy in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries. New Haven, CT and London: Yale University Press, 2013. 444 pp., 306 illustrations.
  • cover-trade CannonTrade in Artists’ Materials: Markets and Commerce in Europe to 1700, London: Archetype, 2010, pp. 489, numerous colour and b&w illustrations, maps, diagrams, graphs and charts. Co-edited with Jo Kirby and Susie Nash.

Essays and articles

  • ‘Dominican Shrines and Urban Pilgrimage in Later-Medieval Italy’, in Architecture and Pilgrimage 1000-1500: Southern Europe and Beyond, ed. Paul Davies, Deborah Howard and Wendy Pullan, Aldershot: Ashgate, 2013, pp. 143-63.
  • ‘An enigmatic Italian panel painting of the Crucifixion in the Narodni Galerie, Prague’, in Z. Opacic and A. Timmerman eds., Image, Memory and Devotion, Liber Amicorum Paul Crossley, 2, Turnhout: Brepols, 2011, pp. 157-180.
  • cover-iconography Cannon‘Kissing the Virgin’s Foot: Adoratio before the Madonna and Child enacted, depicted, imagined’, Studies in Iconography, 31, 2010, pp. 1-50.
    (Shorter version published as: ‘Duccio and devotion to the Virgin’s foot in early Sienese painting’, in A Wider Trecento: Studies in 13th – and 14th- century European Art presented to Julian Gardner, ed. L. Bourdua and R. Gibbs, Brill, Leiden and Boston, 2012, pp. 39-61.
    Italian translation published as: ‘Il piede della Vergine nella pittura senese del Duecento e primo Trecento’, in Presenza del Passato. Political Ideas e modelli culturali nella storia e nell’arte senese, Convegno internazionale, Siena 4 maggio 2007, Rome and Siena, 2008, pp. 61-70.)
  • cover-economie Cannon‘Panem petant in signum paupertatis: The Image of the Quest for Alms Among the Friars of Central Italy’, in Armut und Armenfürsorge in der italienischen Stadtkultur zwischen 13. und 16. Jahrhundert: Bilder, Texte und soziale Praktiken, ed. P. Helas and G. Wolf, University of Trier, Frankfurt am Main, 2006, pp. 29-53; 402; 420-29.
    (Subsequently published, in translation, as ‘Panem petant in signum paupertatis : l’image de la quête des aumônes chez les frères d’Italie centrale’, in Économie et religion. L’expérience des ordres mendiants (XIIIe-XVe siècle), ed. N. Bériou and J. Chiffoleau, Lyon 2009, pp. 501-33.)
  • Catalogue entry ‘Maestro di Figline/Maestro della Pietà Fogg, San Francesco e San Filippo’, Giotto e il Trecento, Roma, Complesso del Vittoriano 6 marzo – 29 giugno 2009, ed. Alessandro Tomei, Milan 2009, pp. 188-190.
  • Dominican Patronage of the Arts in Central Italy: The Provincia Romana, c. 1220–c. 1320’. PhD thesis, University of London (Courtauld Institute of Art) 1980.

Recent/major grants

  • Spring 2012, Visiting Scholar, J. Paul Getty Museum,work on concluding chapter of Religious Poverty, Visual Riches
  • 2008-2010 Co-director of project on Master of the Fogg Pietà/ Maestro di Figline receiving Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Grant.

Other professional activities

  • Member of the Advisory Board of Iconographica.
  • Peer reviewer for a variety of presses and journals.

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